Bhubaneswar: In a major development, Odisha government on Thursday initiated the process for reopening of Puri Srimandir and other temples in the State which continue to remain shut for public due to the Covid pandemic.
State Chief Secretary has directed the temple administrations to prepare plan of action for opening the temples.
“State govt directs temple administration of Puri and other major temples of state under Endowment to prepare plan of action for opening temples for worshippers adhering to covid regulations," Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy informed through Twitter.
He further mentioned that the respective Collectors will submit report after consultation with all stake holders in next 10 days.
Dist collectors asked to consider possibility of opening up places of worship for public of all religious faiths where compliance to extant Covid guidelines is feasible and report to Govt.They may prefer graded opening in the interest of containing the disease," Tripathy tweeted.
Commenting on the development Endowment Commissioner Chittaranjan Mohapatra said, “We are yet to receive any letter from the government. As many as 18,000 temples are under the commission. There is no problem in reopening of temple keeping COVID-19 restrictions in place.”
Meanwhile, leaders of different religious communities have expressed happiness over the State government’s move.
“If the government wants to reopen religious places, then we need to aware people not to gather in large numbers before and after prayer. They should come, offer prayer and leave,” said Sayeed Faisal Ilahi, a maulvi.
“We support the government. We cannot open churches by October end due to increasing COVID-19 cases in the city. If the government allows us to open churches in November, then we will take a call taking the situation into consideration,” said Ayub Chinchani, pastor, Union church in Bhubaneswar.
All temple and religious institutions in the State closed their doors for the public after the enforcement of nationwide lockdown in view of Covid-19 outbreak in earlier this year in March.
Recently, the government in a statement before the High Court specifically mentioned that it is not willing to allow reopening of the temples at a time when Covid cases continue to remain unabated in the State.
The development sparked resentment from all around the State with Opposition political parties criticising the government over its indecision. Servitors across the State also launched a protest by beating gongs and ringing bells to show their dissatisfaction over the matter on Wednesday.
Notably, over 400 servitors and employees of the Srimandir were tested positive for Covid-19 few days ago. A total of 351 servitors of the temple and 53 employees were infected found with novel-Coronavirus.
(Edited By Suryakant Jena)